Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Get Your Italian On.

I tole ya I am a bad cook. That I have 10 things I cook real well and everything else I totally jack up. Bread and typically cookies are 2 of these often jacked up items.

Who jacks up cookies? Me. Sometimes. That's who.

But. . . a good, authentic Italian red sauce. .. that is another matter. See, Jeff spent 2 years on a mission in Italy. He learned the art of real Italian cooking and after beating his head against a wall teaching me, he finally learned me how to cook a little, too.

Since I feel like being Julia or Martha today, let's cook, man!

Now, keep in mind: this is a Southern Italian red sauce. We're talkin' Rome, Naples, Sicily. . . that sort of thing. I hear they do things differently in the northern parts.

But back to this sauce. . . it's so delicious. . . so versatile. It's a staple of Italian cooking. You get this bad boy down, and the cooking world is your playground. In the Italian sense. Lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, pink sauces, cannelloni. .. and that's not even touching all the delicious things you can add to your simple red sauce (my favorite is red bell peppers, sliced thin and fried up on olive oil.

Dang I'm hungry now.


First off, I would like to point out that this pan is a crime to cooking humanity. It is a complete disgrace.

It don't sit flat- it's not even perfectly round. A complete travesty. And this is where you tell me about that perfect pan you own that was worth.every.penny. It would be the decent- nay- generous gesture on your part.

Now we're really getting into cooking. My bad.
Coat your non p.o.s. pan with some olive oil.

Just roll it around on there. A light coat'll do.

Add your garlic. This is to taste, my peeps.

As for me and my house, we're keeping the garlic down to respectable lows. No need to sweat out garlic smell or be a garlic stink bomb. But that opinion isn't shared with the hubs. He'd double that amount.
Lightly golden-brown yer garlic. Now, this is where I took my p.o.s. pan off the heat and searched in vain for the red pepper flakes.

and you yell to your hubby "where are the freakin' pepper flakes?" And he tells you that since it was such a cheap spice that they didn't get moved from to NC to UT.

So anyway, pretending that you have these flakes, you're going to add them to taste. If you like things a little spicy hot, by all means, get crazy with your flakes and add them to brown just a tad with your garlic.

Now you're ready to add les tomates. (I'm mixing languages/countries, huh?) If money grew on trees, you'd go out and buy fresh 'uns. Or if you were totally fancy you'd go get some out of your greenhouse that you keep up all year around.

But for me, canned will do.

I like a chunky sauce. We're all about chunky in this house.

But if you're not a chunky fan, you could mash 'em or blend 'em.

Be generous with your salt. Les tomates need it.

And now you get to cook your sauce down. Let that excess water boil on out. And in the meantime,

pick yerself a good pasta, and cook it. (Hint: American Beauty ain't one of them.)

'Cause you're going full out autentico pasta, here. That means "al dente", people.

I'd never even heard that word til I met Jeff. No one needs blubbery pasta. Once you've had good pasta cooked al dente, you'll never go back. Watch your cooking times, 'cause truly

perfection is 9-10 minutes for a good spaghetti. Soft (mushy) is not done-- it is overdone.

These 2 spices are your best fray-ends.


and oregano. (He's a lil shy).
When your sauce is nearly done (cooked down to almost your preferred thickness) add your basil.
You can't go wrong with basil. It gives your tomatoes the sweetness they need. No sugar needed here. Basil is your sugar mama, and she's all that. And a bag of good bread, too.
Go ahead. Add your oregano.

You CAN go wrong with oregano. Don't get crazy. Just a sprinkle is enough, folks.

This is lookin' about done here. A few more minutes, and that excess water will be all gone, man.

I need a sprig of parsely and some fresh mozz.

And this concludes our one and only cooking session with Mandi, the (usually) crappy cook.

What You Need:

-Olive Oil
-Red Pepper Flakes
-2-3 cans diced tomatoes

Coat your pan in olive oil. Lightly golden brown your garlic, adding pepper flakes to taste near the end. Add your tomatoes. Add a generous amount of salt. Cook down your sauce on medium high heat (turn down if it's spitting tomato everywhere).

When your sauce is nearly cooked down completely, add a generous amount of basil, and a medium sprinkle of oregano.

Enjoy it. Savor it. Feel totally Martha.


Anonymous said...

Today is my lucky day :)
Apple is giving review copies of iPad to 100 lucky person. Go to and apply for it.

Emily said...

Don't feel bad I can't make cookies either. But I can make bread (it's the only thing I make well, and I use a bread machine) so maybe you can make that yummy sauce and I can make my rolls and we can do dinner some time. Ü

WhettenWild said...

Dude. You read my mind. I was totally going to have you remind me what Jeff puts in his red sauce yesterday........and then your phone died. Now I don't have to ask.

BTW....I think I would have remembered everything but the basil.

chris w said...

mmmmmmmmm....I just drooled a little.

Joanna said...

How funny, my husband was just talking about how he has never tasted a real Italian meal in the US and that we should learn how to do it right. I might just have to test this out. :)
BTW, I look forward to your posts every day. They make me smile.

Rebecca D said...

I am laughing so hard I'm crying... That has never happened to me while reading a cooking post before...

dena4kids said...

I want some! send it to me!=) YUMMY!=)

La Tempête said...

Ah, YUM.